UPDATED: It looks as if Uber may be finally made a positive step toward recovery after a year of management upheaval with the selection of a new CEO to replace founder Travis Kalanick.
The board decided to appoint Dara Khosrowshahi, who currently serves as the CEO of Expedia. In his first public statement regarding his selection as CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi told The Wall Street Journal on Aug. 29 that he plans to accept the job, but that terms of an employment contract still need to be worked out. Nor has Uber issued a statement confirming that Khosrowshahi has accepted the position.
Uber’s board voted unanimously Aug. 27 to offer the job to Khosrowshahi following protracted battles between factions on the board favoring outgoing General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt or Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman.
Immelt withdrew his name from consideration via a note on Twitter over the weekend. Whitman apparently was not chosen after she and the board were unable to come to agreement on the CEO’s duties.
Khosrowshahi has apparently been on Uber’s short list for several weeks, although that information has been kept a closely guarded secret. After Immelt and Whitman fell by the wayside, Khosrowshahi’s name was brought up and the rival Uber board factions agreed to set aside their differences voted to offer the job to him.
So what exactly is going on with Uber and its would-be CEO? Right now, it’s hard to say since we don’t have any leaks from the board. But it’s not hard to guess the general outlines of what’s going on between Khosrowshahi and the Uber board.
The first issue to be resolved is to make sure he’s not hurt by his loss of compensation from Expedia. Khosrowshahi was promised million of dollars in a compensation plan that included stock options and bonuses, but to get that, he had to stay at Expedia for five years.
If he leaves Expedia before the five years is up, Khosrowshahi forfeits most of the deferred compensation. Before he departs to run Uber, he’s going to want to be made whole.
In addition, Khosrowshahi needs to make sure that his place in Uber’s management structure and his place on Uber’s board are assured. He will also want to make sure that he can pick the senior executives he wants to help him run Uber. Finally, he will need to be convinced that he has full authority to run Uber and not be subject to second guessing or even board challenges from former CEO Travis Kalanick, who remains on Uber’s board.
In the past year Uber has been hit with multiple complaints of gender discrimination, and sexual harassment resulting in criminal investigations, lawsuits, executive departures and mass firings.
In June Kalanick initially took a leave of absence ostensibly to take time off to mourn the untimely death of his mother in a boating accident last May.